On April 3, the Russian Foreign Ministry handed over a note of protest to the temporary charge d'affaires of Ukraine in relation to the unlawful detention of the Russian Nord fishing vessel in the Sea of Azov by state border service of Ukraine on March 25. The announcement was made by the Russian Foreign Ministry spokesperson Maria Zakharova at a briefing in Moscow on April 4, EADaily’s correspondent reports. As she clarified, the ship was escorted to the port of Berdyansk, where ten Russian citizens from the crew were illegally detained.
At the same time, the crew is kept in inhuman conditions, Russian consular officers were not allowed to visit them, Zakharova noted. Such actions do not correspond to provisions of the agreement between the Russian Federation and Ukraine on cooperation in the use of the Sea of Azov and the Kerch Strait signed in 2003 and other bilateral documents that resolve the issue of fishing in the Azov Sea, she said.
"The Russian side demanded the immediate release of illegally detained Russian citizens, the return of the Nord vessel to its rightful owner and the prevention of similar provocations in the future," Zakharova said.
The official representative of the Russian Foreign Ministry also added that the Russian side is outraged by another provocative actions of the Ukrainian side against the captain of the Nord ship Vladimir Gorbenko, who was taken out from the ship by the National Security Service officers on April 4 and brought to Kherson.
According to lawyers, at the moment the Nord team was forced to leave the ship due to unbearable sanitary conditions on it (as all the fish caught has become spoiled) and descend to the pier where they stayed under the sight of armed men, Zakharova said. She also noted that the Ukrainian side does not allow Russian diplomats visiting the Russians, claiming that all crew members, including the captain, are from Kerch, and, therefore, are citizens of Ukraine.
"This is not the first time we face such provocations," Zakharova said.